Eilaboun was Jewish Eylabu until the 12th century / DR.R.S,Lissak

Eilaboun is an Arabic village in the Lower Galilee, east of the valley of Netofa. The village has a population of about 4,600, mostly Christian with a Muslim minority. The Muslims are Bedouins who settled in the village in the 1980's.

Second Temple Period (538 BCE – 70 CE)

Eylabu (the Hebrew name of Eilaboun) was founded some time during the Second Temple period. Its name originates from Ein (spring) Lavon.

The Roman & Byznatine Periods (70 CE – 640 CE)

Eylabu survived the Great Revolt (66-70 CE). Priests from the Kotz clan settled in the village following the failure of the Great Revolt.
During the Mishna and Talmud period Eylabu was Jewish and had a synagogue, the remains of which were mentioned by Victor Guerin who visited Eilaboun at the end of the 19th century. The synagogue dates from the 3rd century. Burial caves and other ancient remains are still awaiting excavation and research.

During the Byzantine period Eylabu was mentioned in the Piyutim (liturgical poems) composed by Elazar HaKalir in the 7th century CE.

The remains of a 3rd century synagogue were discovered about 2 kilometres away from Eilaboun. The area surrounding the synagogue was populated throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. Scholars assume this was the site of the village Uziel, home to priests of the Aviyah priestly clan. Excavations held in 1905 unearthed the remains of the synagogue, constructed in the style common to Galilean synagogues.

An Aramaic inscription that was found among the ruins of the synagogue reads: “Yoezer the Cantor and Simon his brother made this gate of the Lord in the Heavens”. Part of another Aramaic inscription was found during the 1979 excavations that unearthed the synagogue mosaic floor. Based on coins that were found on the site, researchers have concluded that the place was in use during the 3rd and 4th centuries CE.

The Arabic Conquest (640CE – 1099CE)

Archaeologists are divided as to when the village Uziel was abandoned by its Jewish inhabitants. Those who excavated there in 1905 concluded that the village was destroyed at the end of the Arabic period, while those who excavated in 1979 concluded that the village was abandoned after the 4th century. If the Jewish village was abandoned in the 5th century,
there is reason to assume that they were killed or forced to escape because of religious persecution by the Byzantines, or because Christian neighbors wanted to kill them . But, if the village was destroyed at the end of the Arabic period, there is reason to assume that it happened during the war between the Arabs and the Crusaders.

The Crusade Period (1099 – 1260)

The Jewish village Eylabu was destroyed in the wars between the Arabs and the Crusaders in the 12th century. During the Middle Ages, however, Jews were still going on pilgrimage to Rabbi Mattya Ben Harash’s grave in the ruined Eylabu.

The Ottoman Period (1516 – 1918)

Christians settled on the ruins of the Jewish Eylabu during the 19th century. They came there from the villages Deyr Hanna, Arabbe, and Sakhnin, and named the place Eilaboun. Victor Guerin visited Eilaboun at the end of the 19th century and found there about 100 Christian residents. Three churches have been built in the village.


Eilaboun was conquered by the Gollani Brigade on 30 October 1948 following a battle against the forces of Kaukji, commander of the Arab Liberation Force, who came to the aid of the Arabs in their fight against the Jews in order to thwart the establishment of the Jewish state.

Eilaboun’s 800 inhabitants were expelled to Lebanon, but some infiltrated back. Eilaboun could have ended up as Ikkrit and Bir’em, whose residents were forced to leave their villages, but when it became clear that Kaukji took over the village against the will of its residents, they were allowed to return to it in the summer of 1949.(the residents of the 2 other villages were moved to other villages)

14 youngsters of Eilaboun were killed by Israeli solders, after the village was conquered. Ilan Pepe, an Israeli post- Zionist leftist historian, claimed in his book, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," that they were killed as part of a systematic Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing. Yoav Gelber, another Israeli historian, investigated the accusations in his book, "Palestine 1948, War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem," and came to the conclusion that there was no such policy and most accusations made by Arabs on massacres were untrue. But, Gelber found out that there were few cases of killing of civilians by the Israeli army, and the Eilaboun case was one of them. He discovered that the reason the soldiers killed those youngsters was they were furious because one of them was caught by Arabs who cut off his head. They suspected that this was done by residents of Eilaboun. There is no excuse for what happened in Eilaboun.

Killing of unarmed population or war prisoners are war crimes, and should be condemned. But, the Arabic effort to ignore their own part in killing Jewish civilians and war prisoners, is an effort to rewrite history.
As a matter of fact, much more Jewish civilians and war prisoners were killed by Arabs than by Jews.

Jewish civilians were victims of pogroms by Arabs in 1919- 1920, 1929, 1936- 1939 in which hundreds were killed or wounded, not to mention Jews who were killed between those dates, and during 1947- 1948.

One of the most outrageous cases happened in May 1948: 35 Israeli fighters were tortured and murdered in cold blood on their way to Gush Etzion. They have met an old Arabic Shepard on their way and decided not to kill him. This cost them with their lives. He returned with Arab villagers from around which massacred the Jewish fighters after they ran out of ammunition.

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